LINDSBORG, KAN., April 23, 2012—On May 7, Bethany College will host a free public conference about autism spectrum disorders featuring presentations from experts in the state and from Bethany honors students.

Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders–autism spectrum disorders–caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1 in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum. This 1,000% increase in the past 40 years is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.

The conference begins at 11 a.m. in Lindquist Hall with talks given by students in Bethany’s Science for Citizens honors course taught by Lockyear. “Everyone in Science for Citizens is related to or friends with someone who has a form of autism,” says Professor of Chemistry Loranelle Lockyear, Ph.D. “I think that many people don’t realize that autism is so prevalent.”

The afternoon session begins at 12:30 p.m. in Burnett Center and will include presentations on the types and symptoms of autism, current research on the causes, and strategies for treatment and accommodation. Speakers include Sean Swindler, M.S. Ed., the director of community program development and evaluation for the Kansas Center For Autism Research and Training (K-CART); Vicky Kloeppner and Rebecca Pflughoeft, members of the Autism Interdisciplinary Team of the McPherson school district; Andrea Kinlen, Ph.D., L.P., a developmental psychologist at Prairie View in McPherson; and Clark Shultz, District 73 Representative to the Kansas State House of Representatives.

A break from noon to 12:30 p.m. will be given for lunch (not provided). Attendees are invited to the on-campus cafeteria in Pihlblad Memorial Union for a buffet lunch for $6.69 per person. Light refreshments will be provided at breaks during the afternoon session.

“I encourage all individuals to get educated on autism spectrum disorders and identifying symptoms,” says Lockyear. “The cases of autism are increasing year by year, and, as educators, we must prepare to accommodate the special learning needs of individuals on the spectrum.”

Bethany College, established by Swedish Lutheran immigrants in 1881, is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The mission of Bethany College is to educate, develop and challenge individuals to reach for truth and excellence as they lead lives of faith, learning and service. Bethany College is on the Web at

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